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An image captured using the new lens

Night-vision security cameras could be getting a lot less costly, thanks to the discovery that their lenses can be made from silicon. Ordinarily, thermal infrared camera lenses are made from materials such as germanium and chalcogenide, which are much more expensive.  Read More

A nanoparticle-based surgical adhesive might soon take the place of sutures, staples or po...

In the ongoing quest to develop better ways of sealing wounds within the body, scientists have created surgical adhesives inspired by porcupine quills, mussels and slugs. Not all good ideas have to come from the animal kingdom, however. Recently, French researchers have had success in repairing internal organs using an adhesive solution that incorporates either silica or iron oxide nanoparticles.  Read More

The synthetic mother-of-pearl ceramic (left) and its natural counterpart

Although you may know it simply as the shiny iridescent stuff on the inside of mollusk shells, mother-of-pearl (or nacre) is a remarkable material. It allows those shells, which otherwise consist almost entirely of brittle calcium carbonate, to stand up to the abuses of life in the sea. Now, a team led by the Laboratoire de Synthèse et Fonctionnalisation des Céramiques (CNRS) in Paris, has copied the structure of nacre to create a ceramic material that's almost 10 times stronger than conventional ceramics.  Read More

Artist's impression showing conductive supramolecular fibers trapped between two gold elec...

French researchers have produced highly conducive plastic fibers with a thickness of only a few nanometers that self-assemble when exposed to a flash of light. The tiny fibers (one nanometer equals one billionth of a meter) could become a cheaper and easier-to-handle alternative to carbon nanotubes and play a role in the development of electronic components on the nanoscale.  Read More

Samples of the new resin shaped with high heat  (Image: CNRS)

Synthetic resins start out as viscous liquids that eventually solidify or "cure" into clear or translucent solids. These materials, which combine the desirable properties of strength, durability and light weight, are so useful that you can find them in thousands of applications, particularly aircraft, automobiles and electronic circuits. But for all that versatility, there's one thing that's remained elusive: once cured, resins can not be reshaped. Now, a team from France's National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), led by award-winning physicist Ludwik Leibler, has developed an inexpensive and easily-produced material that is not only reshapable (like glass), but also repairable and recyclable, again, like glass. That's a potential boon for the auto body industry alone, and the possibilities for other uses are seemingly endless.  Read More

Scientists have created a nanoscale piston that is capable of self-assembly (Image: Ivan H...

Just like a regular-sized device requires a regular-sized motor to operate, a nanodevice likewise requires a molecular-scale motor. In some cases, that motor takes the form of a piston, and building a piston that’s just a few nanometers long ... well, it’s pretty hard. It can and has been done, but it’s an extremely fiddly process. Now, scientists from France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Université de Bordeaux, along with colleagues in China, have developed a molecular piston that is capable of assembling itself.  Read More

The Teramobile laser arriving in front of the hangar where it was installed during the cam...

April 14, 2008 A team of European scientists has deliberately triggered electrical activity in thunderclouds for the first time, according to a new paper in the latest issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal. They did this by aiming high-power pulses of laser light into a thunderstorm. The laser beams were supplied by the Teramobile - a nine-ton portable terawatt and femtosecond laser which fits inside a standard six-meter freight container. Its pulses have an instantaneous power of 5 terawatts (5TW = 5 x 1012W or the power equivalent of a thousand nuclear reactors) and a duration of approximately 100 femtoseconds (1013 s.).  Read More

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